By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The Rawlins properties in Keizer Station are formally foreclosed upon.
The Keizer City Council held a special hearing last Thursday, March 6 on the issue. City councilors had approved a settlement agreement at their March 3 regular meeting, but city attorney Shannon Johnson said state statute required the city to hold a public hearing prior to agreeing to enter into an option to sell publicly-owned ground.
“We will move forward as quickly as we can with the foreclosure process,” Johnson said. “We will save substantial costs if we move quickly.”
Johnson said the two properties have Local Improvement District (LID) assessments of $7.1 million against them, while the real market value for the properties combined is $2.2 million. Johnson called it “extremely likely” the city will be the high bidder in the sheriff’s sale for the properties.
If indeed the city is the high bidder, the Rawlinses will have the opportunity to purchase the properties from the city at least 13 months after the sheriff’s sale goes through. The purchase price would be $3 million after 13 to 16 months, jumping up at $500,000 increments until topping out at $5 million after 50 to 60 months.
Attempts to reach the Rawlinses were unsuccessful.
City officials make bond calls for improvements at Keizer Station, with the next call believed to be due in May.
“We may not be able to make the date, even if everything goes perfect,” Johnson said. “We pay bonds down twice a year. Essentially everything would have to go perfect to make the next bond call. We’re trying to make it because it’s significant savings.”
In response to a question from citizen Bill Quinn about the city’s liability, Johnson and city manager Chris Eppley said the amount would be $1.4 million.
“That’s if (the Rawlinses) pay us back at the lowest amount,” Eppley said.
Conversely, Johnson said the best scenario for the city is for the Rawlinses to buy the property back at the highest amount.
“It’s like a bank,” Johnson said. “Say they foreclose on you. You don’t owe any more, but you don’t own anymore, either. We’re grumbling at this end. Even if we foreclose easily, what would we be able to sell the property for? We don’t think we could sell it for more than $3 million.”
Eppley said being proactive ends up saving the city money.
“If we did nothing and kicked the can down the road, the potential (extra costs) would be millions and millions,” he said. “We’re paying $1.4 million to offset possible $8 (million) to $10 million in costs in the future. We didn’t feel it was ethical to do that to future iterations of this group.”
Councilors had little comment during the meeting.
“Just in my scenario, the worst case is if they do not buy the property back, at the end of five years we have property we can’t sell,” council president Joe Egli said.
Councilors approved a motion to authorize the agreement. It was approved 4-0, with councilors Dennis Koho and Jim Taylor abstaining.
Mayor Lore Christopher was pleased with the agreement, considering the details.
“Ideally, I would have liked the Rawlinses to come forward when they had an opportunity to do so, if they were so concerned about the assessment of the LIDs,” Christopher told the Keizertimes afterwards. “They had two opportunities to do so and they didn’t. But I am pleased we were able to handle the settlement locally. It was a local issue and I did not like relying on the legislature making decisions for our city. I think